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Senior Services of Alexandria

"Senior Services of Alexandria is one of the city's best-kept secrets," some of our clients and supporters say. We want to be more visible to the community, and we certainly don't want to keep secrets; so we thank the Gazette-Packet for inviting us to tell you how we help our city's elders.

The mission of the non-profit Senior Services of Alexandria (SSA) is to "foster independence and self-sufficiency so that seniors within the City of Alexandria can age with dignity." We have earned the community's trust during our 42 years of faithfully fulfilling that mission.

Our 23-member board of directors oversees the executive director and a small, full and part-time staff with an $850,000 annual operating budget. You can find our office in Old Town at 700 Princess St., on the mezzanine level.

Our primary clients are men and women age 60 and over, but more and more, we are working with adult children who need help with caring for aging parents, especially those who live out of town.

How do we help seniors? We provide Meals on Wheels and access to transportation jointly with the City of Alexandria and the Ronald M. Bradley Foundation. We also offer daily money management services and companion care placements. Last year, we served over 2,500 clients in all our programs, with the assistance of approximately 250 volunteers.

FOR MORE THAN 35 years, Senior Taxi has provided discounted curb-to-curb service to and from medical appointments and grocery and drug stores. Caring SSA reservationists assist seniors in arranging rides in Alexandria Yellow Cabs and ensuring that passengers are picked up and taken home promptly. Often, reservationists build relationships with seniors just by talking on the phone. One of our clients who has moved away will call now and then to chat with one reservationist "just to hear his voice."

Likewise, for seniors and others who are disabled, DOT Transportation — the DASH bus system's counterpart for people with disabilities — provides safe, reliable curb-to-curb taxi service in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. In cooperation with Diamond Transportation and White Top Cab companies and the City of Alexandria, SSA reservationists diligently schedule rides for clients. This means efficiently managing adjustments and cancellations. In addition to offering a high level of personal service, a record of the trips scheduled, departures and arrivals are carefully documented in each day's manifests.

WHAT IS MORE essential and comforting than a nutritional meal? Meals on Wheels is a life-sustaining program that allows seniors who are unable to go out to shop — or have difficulty preparing meals — to stay home, because their meals are delivered. I am so proud that, in partnership with the city government and over 200 volunteers, we are able to provide meals to nearly 100 clients every Monday through Friday.

For the past two years, we have been able to deliver meals on holidays through the generosity of the Ronald M. Bradley Foundation. Mr. Bradley was concerned that homebound seniors might go hungry on Thanksgiving, Christmas and other holidays; so his foundation covers the costs of meals on all federal holidays. Again, loyal volunteers donate their free time to deliver these meals, which are really delicious and a bit more special because of their holiday motifs.

Also, through our Daily Money Management Program, SSA helps seniors with writing checks to pay bills, balancing bank accounts and resolving financial problems. Some issues are easily addressed, such as late fees or understanding increases in billings, while others are more serious and require interpretation to parse credit reports or identify inappropriate charges. We do not offer financial advice, but we refer clients to a number of professional institutions that can help them.

Our counselor also offers help to resolve Medicare and Medicaid issues. We work closely with the city's Office on Aging to aid our seniors to manage "life issues," which enables them to live in the comfort and safety of their homes and community. We also like to work with our clients' accountants, lawyers and care managers.

Finally, perhaps our fastest growing service is our companion care program. We assist seniors and their families in finding trusted and capable companions to provide in-home care such as cooking, cleaning, help with dressing and errand running. If seniors need expanded care, we refer them or family members to a number of professional home health care agencies.

So that is our story. The "secret" is out. How can we help you or a senior you know and love and care about? To learn more about us, please call 703-836-4414. If you would like to volunteer or contribute, we welcome you. We need to provide services to our aging population, and with your help; Senior Services of Alexandria can continue to do just that.